The number of various cultures pning the globe is immense. Cultures are influenced and driven by a unique language and style all their own. The land of Bali and America are separated by thousands of miles and have contrasting differences in what is viewed as acceptable behaviors and mannerisms. Language barriers can form walls of separation between what is culturally acceptable in these two countries. These cultures develop influential ways of living that are firmly rooted in tradition.
I will discuss the different attitudes and in-born beliefs surrounding the subject of politeness as well as the issue of confrontational behaviors. The way people communicate goes beyond the different languages spoken in America and Bali. . For example, an American woman with mixed decent of Italian and Jewish/Hungarian was raised in the hustle and bustle of New York City. If we placed her in Bali, she would be viewed as an outcast. It’s her New-York-Minute attitude where she needs to be verbose and outspoken to get her point across and get what she wants, both in the workplace and in her leisure.
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Some Americans might be taken aback by her husky attitude and view it her in-your-face attitude as insulting and rude. Other people, however, would simply see her as another American trying to make her place in society. The discussions surrounding polite behaviors in America take on differing viewpoints in Comparison to the people of Bali. Americans can be very intense and, according to people of Bali, they would be seen as insulting and out-of-control. It’s the American demeanor and body language that is also so different from the Bali culture.
It is also common knowledge among certain Jewish families in America to expect an individual to stand up for her rights and be willing to object to views that oppose her Jewish way of life. Many Americans are expected to be confrontational and argumentative. This is not a choice, but instead a way of life for many Americans and a cultural expectation. Then, if we venture to the beautiful landscapes of Bali, we find a much more complacent society. In fact, emotional arguments are almost never even heard of in Bali. The people of Bali are very kind, soft-spoken and set in their way of showing great respect to one another.
A linguist living in Bali for numerous years can attest to this. Try to take the pleasant, soft-spoken cultural demeanor back to New York City and a lovely Balinese traveler might discover that the congested, faced-paced whirlwind known as New York is too loud and offensive—even instilling a sense of fear in an individual. A person will discover, dependent on how deeply-rooted they are in their cultural origin, be it in America or Bali, that they must adapt if they want to survive and succeed in a society with such stark contrasts to one’s homeland.
Regardless of the language barriers found in dialogue, contrast is furthered and muddled-over by the cultural influences that are sewn into family tradition. From the same token, many Americans—New Yorkers included—can also feel the fear-factor begin to kindle unpleasant feelings if they are immersed in a soft-spoken culture such as Bali. The people of Bali would be very apprehensive—even shocked—by how American treat one another. The people of Bali view politeness and respect very highly. Bali people would wonder how Americans can function by the way they are so rude and offensive to one another.
Par to this apprehension stems from a combination of cultural-language elements: for one, the attitude surrounding confrontation and arguments in America and Bali are so different that they would cause great problems if an American were to move to Bali and vice-versa. Then, when this duress—regardless of how small it might be—is compounded with foreign cultural influence, a resulting sense of fear is likely to occur. The Bali people would be the ones who are fearful of the American’s aggressiveness.
If an American were to move to Bali, she would also be culturally shell-shocked but from a different perspective. The Bali people would not react to the American’s rudeness and lack of sensitivity. Thereby making it nearly impossible for an American to succeed in this country American cultures and Bali cultures find argument to be influential, but with contrasting expectations. Life is meant to be interesting and filled with excitement. It’s a means of opening up and sharing one’s personal beliefs that are paramount to success in this culture.
Americans are brought up in a society that almost requires aggressiveness. Sometimes this aggressiveness does not consider being polite. It is ignored, at least according to the people of Bali. Bali people, in fact, might deem this behavior as rude and self-serving. This, in turn, can put people on the defensive, sensing the needed to act guarded or cautious when immersed in American cultural beliefs. In closing, it is apparent that the various cultures differences surrounding polite mannerisms and confrontation in the work place and on the home front are starkly different.
It’s a different ways of experiencing life. The language barriers are but one challenge that people face if they choose to live or work in a country other than the one they were raised in. As this world becomes more and more global, on both business and family fronts, it’s easy to see that a person doesn’t have to travel out of her own country to experience another culture. The stark contrast of cultural influence is but another step toward uniting this planet as we seek ways to work and live together, harmoniously. SOURCES Listening to Other Cultures, Tannin, Deborah. pp. 221-224
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